Tutors for ORF 

Harriet Oliver, Helen Hooker, Lesley Clarke, Liz Alexander,

Michael Graham, Moira Usher, Ruth Burbidge,

Sophie Middleditch, Terry Smurthwaite

composer in residence - James Stringer

Harriet Oliver

Harriet Oliver is an experienced recorder player, teacher and conductor in Surrey and Wiltshire, to where she moved last year.  She leads a thriving U3A ensemble in Woking and has set up two U3A ensembles near Marlborough – smaller but growing fast!  She conducts an ensemble in Bookham, Surrey, tutors a quartet in Woking, gives individual lessons, is chair of Guildford Society of Recorder Players and regularly conducts the branch sessions as well as conducting at other SRP branches and runs weekly sessions on Zoom.

Helen Hooker

Helen Hooker is an experienced recorder player, teacher and conductor. The main focus of Helen’s teaching is working with adult players of all abilities, regularly coaching SRP branches and teaching on recorder courses throughout the UK. Helen is an active performer, both as a soloist and ensemble player. She performs regularly with The Parnassian Ensemble, a baroque ensemble which specialises in the performance of unjustly neglected English Baroque music. As a conductor Helen has a strong interest in recorder orchestras. She is Musical Director of three such ensembles – the Thames Valley Recorder Orchestra, Hampshire Recorder Sinfonia and the Mellow Tones Recorder Orchestra – the UK’s only permanent eight foot recorder orchestra. Other orchestral projects have included Bravo Bonsor!, a CD of music composed by the late Brian Bonsor. Helen also has an active online presence, with her Score Lines playalong consort videos and educational blog posts which are enjoyed by recorder players around the globe


James Stringer

James studied piano at the Royal College of Music and Trinity College London. After a career in business, he took up recorder and saxophone during lockdown and retired to Somerset in 2021, where he has joined and founded several instrumental ensembles. He has given piano and woodwind concerts at several venues in West Somerset, including appearances at Dunster Castle. James’s music for recorders has been performed at various concerts in the local area, at Recorder Summer School, and has also been featured by the Exeter Recorder Orchestra at a recent concert in Exeter Cathedral. As composer-in-residence for the October Recorder Festival 2024, James is delighted to have the opportunity to write a series of works and looks forward to hearing them performed by ensembles at all levels of ability.

Lesley Clarke
Lesley has played woodwind instruments from an early age, the recorder having first instilled a love of music. She is also an able pianist. Her clarinet studies included lessons with BBC Symphony Orchestra clarinettists Colin Bradbury and Donald Watson. She holds a performance diploma from Trinity College of Music. Lesley is also a flautist and saxophonist as well as a  recorder player, and her busy, versatile career includes teaching pupils from beginner to concerto standard, coaching various woodwind groups, adjudication, arranging music, and performing in both orchestral and chamber music spheres – with interests ranging widely from Baroque to jazz.   Lesley belongs to the Eastern Recorder Orchestra (EROS).  When musical demands permit, Lesley enjoys painting and craft work.
Liz Alexander
Liz studied music at the University of Southampton, with recorder as her first study instrument under Pamela Thorby and Helen Hooker. After gaining a PGCE in Secondary Music from Cambridge, where she was also a choral scholar, Liz settled in Suffolk and now has over 20 years’ experience teaching from early years foundation stage to A level. She plays and sings with various ensembles including Eastern Recorder Orchestra, Recorders Incorporated and recorder/Baroque flute, Baroque bassoon and harpsichord trio, Zephyr Baroque.
Liz’s first work for recorder orchestra A Piece of Cheese grew from a joke about cheese with a fellow EROS member. It has since been published and was recorded by Dietrich Schnabel in 2018. Liz’s inspiration for her music is usually personal, based on people, places, events, or food! Her musical style includes easy flowing motifs and melodies that meander over mainly traditional harmony, with a twist of added note chords and modal inflections inspired by early music, jazz, folk, pop and 30 years of playing in recorder orchestras and choral singing. Liz currently has a number of works for recorders on manuscript and has vowed to get them all to the publishers! She was the centre spread featured composer for The Recorder Magazine summer issue and was  composer in residence for ORF in 2020.  Liz is now on the Visiting Conductors' list for the Society of Recorder Players

Michael Graham
Michael is a conductor and composer based in Edinburgh. He currently works with various orchestral, choral and instrumental ensembles in Scotland and further afield performing a wide range of repertoire, from historical to contemporary styles. Described as having “an infectious enthusiasm for music”, he served as the Edinburgh Society of Recorder Players’ Musical Director between 2011 and 2017 and established the Edinburgh Recorder Ensemble, a one-to-a-part chamber orchestra. He has won several prizes in conducting from the University of Edinburgh and the Association of British Choral Directors. In January 2019, he was awarded the prestigious Bayreuth Scholarship from the Wagner Society of Scotland to fund music study in Germany this summer. Michael is currently the Centrespread Composition Editor of The Recorder Magazine.
Michael Graham
Conductor, Composer and Arranger

Moira Usher
Moira Usher studied cello, piano and recorder at Trinity College of Music, London before moving into high schools as a music teacher until she retrained for special needs work.  Musically she has played cello in a number of local orchestras and ran a community choir for 15 years.    She now sings in two local choirs.  She is a  Visiting Conductor for the SRP,  teaches on the Recorder Summer School and tutors at SuRF.  She is the founder and conductor of the Eastern Recorder Orchestra and does most of the conducting for Suffolk Branch of the SRP.  She was chair of  the Walter Bergmann Fund committee and continues to sell both music and donated recorders to raise money for the fund.  musher@care4free.net

Ruth Burbidge
Ruth’s musical training includes three years at the Royal Academy of Music, studying piano and flute, and after several years teaching, a year at Trinity College of Music studying piano, flute, recorder and harpsichord. During her year at Trinity she won the prestigious Raymond Russell Prize for harpsichord and was very involved in the Early Music scene playing recorder and harpsichord. She has performed many times as a soloist and accompanist, on both recorder and harpsichord.
Well known for her accompanying and tutoring skills, she is invited to conduct groups throughout the UK and goes to the USA each year to join the faculty on a workshop in Connecticut.  She is the director of the chamber recorder orchestra “The Eleven”.
Her business Peacock Press publishes many titles of recorder music and as Recorder Music Mail sells recorder music all over the world. www.recordermail.co.uk

Sophie Middleditch

After graduating from Lancaster University, Sophie went on to study recorder, modern and baroque flute at Trinity College of Music.  Since then she has gained a reputation as a friendly, enthusiastic and innovative recorder player and flautist with a wealth of teaching and performing experience.  Her professional playing includes chamber, orchestral and solo engagements as well as work with her own baroque period chamber group, the Parnassian Ensemble. (www.parnassianensemble.com

Sophie also works with small and large recorder groups, including conducting sessions with the SRP Wessex Branch, the Easter Recorder Course, coaching sessions at Exeter University, South West Early Music Forum and Chichester University (where she has been the recorder tutor and chamber music coach since 1997).  She is also a tutor for Hertfordshire-based Benslow Music’s Baroque Buffet course, introducing baroque playing styles and conventions to adult students. Sophie also works with players at Lancing College, near Brighton and at the Prebendal Cathedral School in Chichester.  For five years she ran both the Recorder and Woodwind sections in the Chichester Festival for Music, Dance and Speech. 

Sophie loves all areas of repertoire, including eighteenth century pieces (with the questions of historically informed performance practice this raises) and contemporary music. 

This year Sophie has performed with the Parnassian Trio, will be giving a performance of a rarely heard Vivaldi concerto for two treble recorders and strings in September, and in November will be performing a solo recital with harpsichordist, David Pollock, in her home city, Chichester. Sophie is looking forward to returning for her second year tutoring on the wonderful October Recorder Festival in Suffolk.

Terry Smurthwaite

Terry, who studied recorder with Colin Martin back in the early 70’s, is currently Music Director of the West Riding Branch of the SRP and resident conductor of the Cumbria Branch. He conducts regularly at branches across the North of England. He has also conducted at the SRP National Festivals.

He is the founder and Music Director of Rombalds Recorders, a Recorder Orchestra based in Ilkley which performs concerts across various venues in Yorkshire, including Stately Homes and Churches. (They even ventured over the boarder into Lancashire recently!)

He is a singer and has sung with Manchester Cathedral, The Halle Choir, The William Byrd Singers and Kirklees Baroque. He currently sings with Huddersfield Choral Society.